…that belly buttons are key to success in sports. This one sounded almost too far-fetched. Then I read the article. There is actually a plausible, scientific explanation for why the relative location of the belly button gives African-Americans an advantage in sprinting and Basketball and Caucasians an edge in swimming. Karen Zeitvogel of AFP reports:
The naval is the center of gravity of the body, and given two runners or swimmers of the same height, one black and one white, “what matters is not total height but the position of the belly-button, or center of gravity,” Duke University professor Andre Bejan, the lead author of the study, told AFP.
“It so happens that in the architecture of the human body of West African-origin runners, the center of gravity is significantly higher than in runners of European origin,” which puts them at an advantage in sprints on the track, he said.
Individuals of West African-origin have longer legs than European-origin athletes, which means their belly-buttons are three centimeters (1.18 inches) higher than whites’, said Bejan.
That means the black athletes have a “hidden height” that is three percent greater than whites’, which gives them a significant speed advantage on the track.
In the pool, meanwhile, whites have the advantage because they have longer torsos, making their belly-buttons lower in the general scheme of body architecture.
“Swimming is the art of surfing the wave created by the swimmer,” said Bejan.
“The swimmer who makes the bigger wave is the faster swimmer, and a longer torso makes a bigger wave. Europeans have a three-percent longer torso than West Africans, which gives them a 1.5-percent speed advantage in the pool,” he said.
Makes sense to me. I told my wife about this earlier tonight at a St. Louis Blues game. She looked down at the players and said, “huh, works for Hockey too from the looks of it.”